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TIFF Cinematheque - Leos Carax

11 Aug 2013

Les Films de Leos Carax – Modern Love

 

The first film I have seen directed by French bad boy Leos Carax blew me away.  I went to see it again within the next 3 days.  This was the film that made him – LES AMANTS DU PONT-NEUF.  He immediately became every film buff’s dream and every producer’s nightmare.  Like his earlier works, his films are always all over the place.  Yet he knows what he want on camera.  Often on display is his incredible energy (often personified by his star Denis Lavant), his innovativeness and sharp bright coloured images.

 

TIFF Cinematheque presents a full retrospective of his films, as he has not made hat many.  All his film are reviewed here, with a full review of his latest film HOLY MOTORS starring Denis Levant again who the TFCA (Toronto Film Critics Association) voted as Best Actor of he Year.

 

Carax will be present himself on August the 9th and 10th at the screenings to introduce his films and do a Q and A.  Check the cinematheque website at:

www.tiff.net

for full details of appearances, showtimes, venue, ticket pricing and other programs.

 

CARAX FILM REVIEWS:

 

 

LES AMANTS DE PONT-NEUF (France 1991) ***** Top 10

Directed by Leos Carax

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This is the tres-expensive film that put French bad boy on the director’s map but also on the most not-too-ne hired-producer’s list. LES AMANTS DU PONT NEUF is the most ferocious love story on film that I have ever seen.  The lovers (Denis Levant and Juliette Binoche) fight, make love, swear and whisper sweet nothings to each other  He drives a barge with her water skiing behind with fireworks on display during the celebrations on Bastilles Day.  He breaks into Le Louvre with her to see the painting of her wishes before she loses her sight.  Lit by a candle, she is able to fulfill her life’s dreams.  In real life, they did not allow Carax to film this scene with a candle as it would damage the painting.  So, he waited till the guards had to go to the toilet before shooting the scene.  This is inspired filmmaking all the way, aided by tremendous performances by the 2 leads.  Of course, the majority of the film is shot at Paris’s oldest bridge the Pont Neuf, when it was reconstructed.  Carax also had a huge set built that ran him way over budget. But all the effort is more than worth it.  The film is a must-see!

 

BOY MEETS GIRL (France 1984) ***

Directed by Leos Carax

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Caax’s first film that is Carax himself. BOY MEETS GIRL stars again Carax’s muse Denis Levant (looking the youngest in all the films) playing again a streetwise kid again called Alex.  Alex falls in and out of love, dances and prances with his mind all over the place, just as this film is.  Though the film settles a bit at the end, the narrative is so disjointed, one often what Carax is trying to say.  But again on display here is the director’s tremendous energy, which makes the film totally watchable.  At one point in the film, Alex reminisces his dreams by saying he dreams of a 100 titles of possible films.  One wonders here is whether Alex is the character of Carax himself exposed in celluloid.  Though shot in black and white, many of the images are breathtaking.

 

 

HOLY MOTORS (France/Germany 2012) ****


Directed by Leos Carax

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Definitely a movie not to be forgotten, French enfant terrible Leos Carax returns with a stunning new film HOLY MOTORS after a 13-year hiatus.

HOLY MOTORS is significantly different.  There is hardly any narrative sense.  The film begins when a man (Carax himself) unlocks a secret door to another world, where Monsieur Oscar (Lavant) lives.  Oscar appears to be a banker who travels the Paris streets in a stretch limo driven by Céline (Edith Scob).  But it turns out he’s got nine assignments today – all requiring disguises.  The film is thus divided into 9 parts excluding the portion that binds the parts together.

Using his limo as a dressing room, Oscar turns himself into an old woman who begs near the Seine .  Next up, he’s a latex-clad acrobat who simulates sex with a limber lady.  Then he’s a sewer-dwelling beast who kidnaps a beauty (Eva Mendes).  This is the segment that Carax displays a full scale erection of Lavant’s penis.  But this is not the first film Carax has done this – as Lavant’s same member could be seen in a night silhouette scene in LES AMANTS DE PONT-NEUF.  Oscar is also a fretting father, a sick uncle, a hit man and more.  Near day’s end, he meets an ex-lover (Kylie Minogue) who sings a romantic song.

The film also contains a few film references.  Lavant has one role as Monsieur Merde, a reprisal of the same one in Carax’s previous film TOKYO .  The mask that Celine wears towards the end of the film has a similar look with the ghostly face in Georges Franju’s EYES WITHOUT A FACE.

HOLY MOTORS is not for everyone.  But with Carax’s surrealism and imagination, the film will surely fascinate cinephiles.

 

 

 

 

 

MAUVAIS SANG (BAD BLOOD) (THE NIGHT IS YOUNG) (France 1986) ***

Directed y Leos Carax

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Again another love story by Carax featuring is favorite actors Denis Levant and Juliette Binoche playing young lovers  This time around Alex is a young crook who has fallen in love with Anna who has a fixation over the older Michel Picolli.  Picolli ha to steal an isolated from a lab 9similar to the AIDs virus) to el pa a debt o an American and save his skin.  How Alex is involved is a bit complicated but such are the films of Carax.  This film, is Carax’s first bigger budge film and Carax goes all over the place with his ideas from Alex leaning on a telephone wire so he can sea and speak at the same time to his sprint in tune to David Bowie’s Song ‘Strange Love’.  The climax of the film is the robbery, which Alex is forced to take part in.  But of course, nothing normal can be expected from a Carax film.

 

POLAR X (France 1999) ***

Directed by Leos Carax

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POLA X (France 1999) ***

Directed by Leos Carax

            Must be great to have as many lovers as Pierre (Guillaume Depardieu).  His young lover, Lucie, his incestuous mother (Catherine Deneuve) and male lover, Thibault.   But Pierre rides around most of the time on his motorcycle wit thins taking a turn when he decides to aid his long lost sister.  This is the story of Pierre, a successful writer whose spiral downhill begins when he meets he sister.  His intent to write a mature novel is met with apprehension from his publisher who says his charm lies in his immaturity.  Pierre’s appearance, behavior and actions take a turn for the worse.  This is material best suited for a director like Carax who is always able to bring t the demons in his characters.  It is also a welcome change to see a different actor in the Denis Lavant role.

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